On March 24th 1983 Exxon Mobile had a massive oil spill just outside the shores of Prince William Sound, Alaska. Dumping more than 500,000 bbl (barrels) over 11,000 miles across the ocean. The oil spill is estimated to have killed 250,000 seabirds and 2,800 sea otters; it is also estimated to have killed multiple seals, orcas, and bald eagles. The first attempt to clean the oil off the shore was to burn it. (an amazing idea for the atmosphere) It successfully burned off more than 100,000 liters of oil. Although the burning was relatively successful the weather was too bad to continue doing it. After the burning they started doing mechanical cleaning with booms and skimmers, but the machines only cleaned about 10% of the total oil spill.
What really made the difference in cleaning up the oil spill were the 11,000 Alaskan volunteers and the Exxon employees that did a majority of the cleaning up. In response to the spill, the U.S passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1900 which made it so oil companies had a “plan to prevent spills that may occur” and have a “detailed containment and cleanup plan”. Although the law sounds somewhat good, I feel like the main objective of the act was for George H.W Bush to use the act to gain political support to get reelected. Even though the oil spill was a disaster and it took out a lot of wildlife; I feel it was a good learning experience for America to deal with oil spills; because of it, we now have new clean up tools, and oil companies know what not to do (except BP), and we passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1900.